In Effort to Compete with Other Women’s Colleges, Barnard Opens Admission to Students of All Gender Identities


MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS—Barnard College announced on Monday its plans to begin accepting students of all gender identities into its degree programs, beginning Fall 2020.

In an email to the College, Barnard’s President Sian Beilock wrote, “In furtherance of our mission, tradition and values, and in recognition of our changing world and evolving understanding of gender identity, Barnard will consider for admission all qualified applicants, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth.”

This comes only four short years after the College’s decision to open admission to transgender women. Beginning in Fall 2015, Barnard considered applications from all students who “consistently live and identify as women”. However, the strict language of this qualification meant that non-binary and gender non-conforming students were ineligible for admission.

Now, these groups will no longer be excluded. Furthermore, the decision to include all gender identities means that the College will open admissions to a segment of the population that has been increasingly marginalized in the past few years: cisgender men.

Many current Barnard students expressed their support for the decision. Kayla Creek, BC ’21, told Spectador, “‘When people think of a women’s college, the first word that comes to mind is inclusivity. As our understanding of what ‘inclusivity’ means changes, so will the makeup of our student body.”

Beilock also expressed hope that opening admissions to a wider segment of the population will help the College differentiate itself from similar institutions. “We’re making history. As of today, Barnard is the first women’s college in the nation to accept men into its ranks. Can Wellesley say the same?”

But not everyone’s response to the announcement has been enthusiastic. Otis Wofford, CC ’22, expressed his discontent with the decision. “Women, men and gender non-conforming folks being a part of the same institution? The social justice warriors are out of control.” When Spectador pointed out that Wofford had already spent a semester in co-ed classes at Columbia, he replied, “Right, but that’s totally different. All the men in my LitHum class are Columbia students, all the women go to Barnard, and the non-binary people are … part of GS, I think?”

But Barnard appears to be firm in its resolution. Beilock concluded her email to the College by informing students and faculty of everything they stand to gain from this decision. “A wider pool means that we’re going to find even more qualified applicants. It will also allow us to be even more selective in our admissions process. Once we hit a single-digit acceptance rate, we will understand what it means to be truly inclusive.”